The best safety in this year's draft is LSU's LaRon Landry. The most intriguing one is Eric Weddle.
A four-year starter at Utah, Weddle lined up at strong safety. And cornerback. And nickel back. And quarterback. And running back. He punted. He returned punts. He even held for kicks.
|Eric Weddle ranked fourth for Utah in tackles last season. (Getty Images)|
Last season he ranked fourth on his team in tackles and had seven interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. He also returned a fumble recovery for a score. On offense, he ran for five TDs and threw for another.
While that doesn't make him unique, it does make him extraordinary -- especially in an age of specialization where some guys make it as situational pass rushers. It also makes him attractive to NFL clubs looking to fill a roster spot with someone who can play more than one position.
"I love this guy," an NFC scout said of Weddle. "If you got him in the second round and didn't wind up with another safety your draft would be a success."
So what it is that makes Eric Weddle special? Well, let's start with the versatility. In 2005, he started at safety but moved to cornerback near the end of the season and played the position so well he held Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson to two catches for 19 yards in the Emerald Bowl.
Johnson is the best player in the draft, but Weddle was the Defensive MVP of that game.
"I pride myself on preparation," Weddle said of his bowl performance. "I had four weeks to prepare for a player of (Johnson's) caliber. You have to bring your A-plus game. If you film-study you can eliminate stuff ... you can eliminate 90 percent of what the guy's going to do just based by his split, his release.
"So half the game I knew what he was going to do before he did it, and I was just breaking on the routes. No disrespect to their team, but the times they threw to him I was just breaking on the ball."
It's one thing to be versatile; it's another to be adept, and Eric Weddle is so good at everything he does that Wyoming coach Joe Glenn last year endorsed him for the Heisman Trophy.
Here's one reason why: In last year's game with Air Force, Weddle played every snap on defense and had eight tackles. He also led the Utes with 73 yards rushing and scored Utah's only two TDs. And he held for the game-winning field goal.
Afterward, Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry told Weddle he should be pulling down two scholarships.